Our Christian Reformed congregation called a minister from the Reformed Church in America, and the RCA church in town called a CRC minister. Is that allowed?
Yes, it is! Christian Reformed churches may call Reformed Church in America ministers, and RCA churches may call CRC ministers, just as they’d call a minister from their own denomination. The ministers retain their ordination in their own denomination, even while serving in the other denomination.
The CRC has this arrangement only with the RCA. It’s one of the ways our two denominations have worked together in recent years—quite differently from our history, as the CRC began as a group that left the RCA back in 1857.
Synod 2005 adopted the “Orderly Exchange of Ordained Ministers” between the CRC and the RCA and made that arrangement a supplement to our Church Order (Art. 8, Suppl. D).
These ministers are expected to demonstrate a “knowledge of and appreciation for the theological and liturgical identity, history, polity, and discipline” of the calling church and to “preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in a manner consistent with the polity” of that church. They are able to serve as delegates to classis and synod in the denomination where they are serving but remain subject to the church that holds their ordination regarding matters of discipline, and they can remain in the pension and benefits plans of the denomination of their ordination, though the calling church is obligated to cover those costs.
One important caveat is that this arrangement is not intended for a minister’s first call because it is essential that a minister “first be formed and educated for ministry in one’s own tradition and have experience in serving in that church’s ordained ministry.”
Again, this arrangement is only between the CRC and the RCA. Calling a minister from any other denomination is allowed only after putting forth “a sustained and realistic effort to obtain a minister from within the CRC and the RCA” and would require that minister to become ordained in the CRC with the approval of the CRC’s candidacy committee and the classis of the calling church. Those approvals would also be needed if an RCA minister wanted to leave the RCA and become a CRC minister.